1983 was an interesting model year for the third-generation Volkswagen Transporter in North America, because VW shoppers could choose between three different engine options. There was an air-cooled diesel 1.6-liter boxer-four that only the very foolish and/or optimistic purchased (48 horsepower, no further comments necessary), a 2.0-liter air-cooled boxer-four that made 67 horses and exploded on the regular, and a 1.9-liter water-cooled boxer-four that altered the earth’s rotation with its terrifying 82 horsepower (and was available only later in the year). Here’s a magazine advertisement for the 2.0-liter air-cooled version that showed up in showrooms early in the model year.
Today, even the Vanagon-worshiping true believers at GoWesty suggest that we all avoid the 1980-1983 air-cooled Vanagons, but they’re benefiting from 20/20 hindsight. Back when the air-cooled ’83 Vanagon was new, the writers at Car and Driver suggested that it was the Porsche 911 of vans. Never mind that the least powerful 911 you could buy in America that year made 172 horsepower—when you get a quote like that, you use it!
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